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Genesis 11:27-28:19 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

II. The Story of the Ancestors of Israel

Terah. 27 These are the descendants of Terah.[a] Terah begot Abram, Nahor, and Haran, and Haran begot Lot. 28 Haran died before Terah his father, in his native land, in Ur of the Chaldeans.[b] 29 Abram and Nahor took wives; the name of Abram’s wife was Sarai,[c] and the name of Nahor’s wife was Milcah, daughter of Haran, the father of Milcah and Iscah. 30 Sarai was barren; she had no child.

31 Terah took his son Abram, his grandson Lot, son of Haran, and his daughter-in-law Sarai, the wife of his son Abram, and brought them out of Ur of the Chaldeans, to go to the land of Canaan. But when they reached Haran, they settled there. 32 The lifetime of Terah was two hundred and five years; then Terah died in Haran.[d]

Chapter 12

Abram’s Call and Migration. The Lord said to Abram: Go forth[e] from your land, your relatives, and from your father’s house to a land that I will show you. [f]I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you and curse those who curse you. All the families of the earth will find blessing in you.[g]

Abram went as the Lord directed him, and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he left Haran. [h]Abram took his wife Sarai, his brother’s son Lot, all the possessions that they had accumulated, and the persons they had acquired in Haran, and they set out for the land of Canaan. When they came to the land of Canaan, [i]Abram passed through the land as far as the sacred place at Shechem, by the oak of Moreh. The Canaanites were then in the land.

The Lord appeared to Abram and said: To your descendants I will give this land. So Abram built an altar there to the Lord who had appeared to him. From there he moved on to the hill country east of Bethel, pitching his tent with Bethel to the west and Ai to the east. He built an altar there to the Lord and invoked the Lord by name. Then Abram journeyed on by stages to the Negeb.[j]

Abram and Sarai in Egypt.[k] 10 There was famine in the land; so Abram went down to Egypt to sojourn there, since the famine in the land was severe. 11 When he was about to enter Egypt, he said to his wife Sarai: “I know that you are a beautiful woman. 12 When the Egyptians see you, they will say, ‘She is his wife’; then they will kill me, but let you live. 13 Please say, therefore, that you are my sister,[l] so that I may fare well on your account and my life may be spared for your sake.” 14 When Abram arrived in Egypt, the Egyptians saw that the woman was very beautiful. 15 When Pharaoh’s officials saw her they praised her to Pharaoh, and the woman was taken into Pharaoh’s house. 16 Abram fared well on her account, and he acquired sheep, oxen, male and female servants, male and female donkeys, and camels.[m]

17 But the Lord struck Pharaoh and his household with severe plagues because of Sarai, Abram’s wife. 18 Then Pharaoh summoned Abram and said to him: “How could you do this to me! Why did you not tell me she was your wife? 19 Why did you say, ‘She is my sister,’ so that I took her for my wife? Now, here is your wife. Take her and leave!”

20 Then Pharaoh gave his men orders concerning Abram, and they sent him away, with his wife and all that belonged to him.

Chapter 13

Abram and Lot Part. From Egypt Abram went up to the Negeb with his wife and all that belonged to him, and Lot went with him. [n]Now Abram was very rich in livestock, silver, and gold. From the Negeb he traveled by stages toward Bethel, to the place between Bethel and Ai where his tent had formerly stood, the site where he had first built the altar; and there Abram invoked the Lord by name.

Lot, who went with Abram, also had flocks and herds and tents, so that the land could not support them if they stayed together; their possessions were so great that they could not live together. There were quarrels between the herders of Abram’s livestock and the herders of Lot’s livestock. At this time the Canaanites and the Perizzites were living in the land.

So Abram said to Lot: “Let there be no strife between you and me, or between your herders and my herders, for we are kindred. Is not the whole land available? Please separate from me. If you prefer the left, I will go to the right; if you prefer the right, I will go to the left.” 10 Lot looked about and saw how abundantly watered the whole Jordan Plain was as far as Zoar, like the Lord’s own garden, or like Egypt. This was before the Lord had destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah. 11 Lot, therefore, chose for himself the whole Jordan Plain and set out eastward. Thus they separated from each other. 12 Abram settled in the land of Canaan, while Lot settled among the cities of the Plain, pitching his tents near Sodom. 13 Now the inhabitants of Sodom were wicked, great sinners against the Lord.

14 After Lot had parted from him, the Lord said to Abram: Look about you, and from where you are, gaze to the north and south, east and west; 15 all the land that you see I will give to you and your descendants forever. 16 I will make your descendants like the dust of the earth; if anyone could count the dust of the earth, your descendants too might be counted. 17 Get up and walk through the land, across its length and breadth, for I give it to you. 18 Abram moved his tents and went on to settle near the oak of Mamre, which is at Hebron. There he built an altar to the Lord.

Chapter 14

The Four Kings. [o]When Amraphel king of Shinar, Arioch king of Ellasar, Chedorlaomer king of Elam, and Tidal king of Goiim made war on Bera king of Sodom, Birsha king of Gomorrah, Shinab king of Admah, Shemeber king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela (that is, Zoar), all the latter kings joined forces in the Valley of Siddim (that is, the Salt Sea[p]). For twelve years they had served Chedorlaomer, but in the thirteenth year they rebelled. In the fourteenth year Chedorlaomer and the kings allied with him came and defeated the Rephaim in Ashteroth-karnaim, the Zuzim in Ham, the Emim in Shaveh-kiriathaim, and the Horites in the hill country of Seir, as far as El-paran, close by the wilderness. They then turned back and came to En-mishpat (that is, Kadesh), and they subdued the whole country of both the Amalekites and the Amorites who lived in Hazazon-tamar. Thereupon the king of Sodom, the king of Gomorrah, the king of Admah, the king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela (that is, Zoar) marched out, and in the Valley of Siddim they went into battle against them: against Chedorlaomer king of Elam, Tidal king of Goiim, Amraphel king of Shinar, and Arioch king of Ellasar—four kings against five. 10 Now the Valley of Siddim was full of bitumen pits; and as the king of Sodom and the king of Gomorrah fled, they fell into these, while the rest fled to the mountains. 11 The victors seized all the possessions and food supplies of Sodom and Gomorrah and then went their way. 12 They took with them Abram’s nephew Lot, who had been living in Sodom, as well as his possessions, and departed.

13 A survivor came and brought the news to Abram the Hebrew,[q] who was camping at the oak of Mamre the Amorite, a kinsman of Eshcol and Aner; these were allies of Abram. 14 When Abram heard that his kinsman had been captured, he mustered three hundred and eighteen of his retainers,[r] born in his house, and went in pursuit as far as Dan. 15 He and his servants deployed against them at night, defeated them, and pursued them as far as Hobah, which is north of Damascus. 16 He recovered all the possessions. He also recovered his kinsman Lot and his possessions, along with the women and the other people.

17 When Abram returned from his defeat of Chedorlaomer and the kings who were allied with him, the king of Sodom went out to greet him in the Valley of Shaveh (that is, the King’s Valley).

18 Melchizedek, king of Salem,[s] brought out bread and wine. He was a priest of God Most High. 19 He blessed Abram with these words:

“Blessed be Abram by God Most High,
    the creator of heaven and earth;
20 And blessed be God Most High,
    who delivered your foes into your hand.”

Then Abram gave him a tenth of everything.

21 The king of Sodom said to Abram, “Give me the captives; the goods you may keep.” 22 But Abram replied to the king of Sodom: “I have sworn to the Lord, God Most High,[t] the creator of heaven and earth, 23 that I would not take so much as a thread or a sandal strap from anything that is yours, so that you cannot say, ‘I made Abram rich.’ 24 Nothing for me except what my servants have consumed and the share that is due to the men who went with me—Aner, Eshcol and Mamre; let them take their share.”

Chapter 15

The Covenant with Abram.[u] Some time afterward, the word of the Lord came to Abram in a vision: Do not fear, Abram! I am your shield; I will make your reward very great.

But Abram said, “Lord God, what can you give me, if I die childless and have only a servant of my household, Eliezer of Damascus?” Abram continued, “Look, you have given me no offspring, so a servant of my household will be my heir.” Then the word of the Lord came to him: No, that one will not be your heir; your own offspring will be your heir. He took him outside and said: Look up at the sky and count the stars, if you can. Just so, he added, will your descendants be. Abram put his faith in the Lord, who attributed it to him as an act of righteousness.[v]

He then said to him: I am the Lord who brought you from Ur of the Chaldeans to give you this land as a possession. “Lord God,” he asked, “how will I know that I will possess it?” [w]He answered him: Bring me a three-year-old heifer, a three-year-old female goat, a three-year-old ram, a turtledove, and a young pigeon. 10 He brought him all these, split them in two, and placed each half opposite the other; but the birds he did not cut up. 11 Birds of prey swooped down on the carcasses, but Abram scared them away. 12 As the sun was about to set, a deep sleep fell upon Abram, and a great, dark dread descended upon him.

13 [x]Then the Lord said to Abram: Know for certain that your descendants will reside as aliens in a land not their own, where they shall be enslaved and oppressed for four hundred years. 14 But I will bring judgment on the nation they must serve, and after this they will go out with great wealth. 15 You, however, will go to your ancestors in peace; you will be buried at a ripe old age. 16 In the fourth generation[y] your descendants will return here, for the wickedness of the Amorites is not yet complete.

17 When the sun had set and it was dark, there appeared a smoking fire pot and a flaming torch, which passed between those pieces. 18 [z]On that day the Lord made a covenant with Abram, saying: To your descendants I give this land, from the Wadi of Egypt to the Great River, the Euphrates, 19 the land of the Kenites, the Kenizzites, the Kadmonites, 20 the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Rephaim, 21 the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Girgashites, and the Jebusites.

Chapter 16

Birth of Ishmael.[aa] Abram’s wife Sarai had borne him no children. Now she had an Egyptian maidservant named Hagar. Sarai said to Abram: “The Lord has kept me from bearing children. Have intercourse with my maid; perhaps I will have sons through her.” Abram obeyed Sarai.[ab] Thus, after Abram had lived ten years in the land of Canaan, his wife Sarai took her maid, Hagar the Egyptian, and gave her to her husband Abram to be his wife. He had intercourse with her, and she became pregnant. As soon as Hagar knew she was pregnant, her mistress lost stature in her eyes.[ac] So Sarai said to Abram: “This outrage against me is your fault. I myself gave my maid to your embrace; but ever since she knew she was pregnant, I have lost stature in her eyes. May the Lord decide between you and me!” Abram told Sarai: “Your maid is in your power. Do to her what you regard as right.” Sarai then mistreated her so much that Hagar ran away from her.

The Lord’s angel[ad] found her by a spring in the wilderness, the spring on the road to Shur, and he asked, “Hagar, maid of Sarai, where have you come from and where are you going?” She answered, “I am running away from my mistress, Sarai.” But the Lord’s angel told her: “Go back to your mistress and submit to her authority. 10 I will make your descendants so numerous,” added the Lord’s angel, “that they will be too many to count.” 11 Then the Lord’s angel said to her:

“You are now pregnant and shall bear a son;
    you shall name him Ishmael,[ae]
For the Lord has heeded your affliction.
12 He shall be a wild ass of a man,
    his hand against everyone,
    and everyone’s hand against him;
Alongside[af] all his kindred
    shall he encamp.”

13 To the Lord who spoke to her she gave a name, saying, “You are God who sees me”;[ag] she meant, “Have I really seen God and remained alive after he saw me?” 14 That is why the well is called Beer-lahai-roi.[ah] It is between Kadesh and Bered.

15 Hagar bore Abram a son, and Abram named the son whom Hagar bore him Ishmael. 16 Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar bore him Ishmael.

Chapter 17

Covenant of Circumcision.[ai] When Abram was ninety-nine years old, the Lord appeared to Abram and said: I am God the Almighty. Walk in my presence and be blameless. Between you and me I will establish my covenant, and I will multiply you exceedingly.

Abram fell face down and God said to him: For my part, here is my covenant with you: you are to become the father of a multitude of nations. No longer will you be called Abram; your name will be Abraham,[aj] for I am making you the father of a multitude of nations. I will make you exceedingly fertile; I will make nations of you; kings will stem from you. I will maintain my covenant between me and you and your descendants after you throughout the ages as an everlasting covenant, to be your God and the God of your descendants after you. I will give to you and to your descendants after you the land in which you are now residing as aliens, the whole land of Canaan, as a permanent possession; and I will be their God. God said to Abraham: For your part, you and your descendants after you must keep my covenant throughout the ages. 10 This is the covenant between me and you and your descendants after you that you must keep: every male among you shall be circumcised.[ak] 11 Circumcise the flesh of your foreskin. That will be the sign of the covenant between me and you. 12 Throughout the ages, every male among you, when he is eight days old, shall be circumcised, including houseborn slaves and those acquired with money from any foreigner who is not of your descendants. 13 Yes, both the houseborn slaves and those acquired with money must be circumcised. Thus my covenant will be in your flesh as an everlasting covenant. 14 If a male is uncircumcised, that is, if the flesh of his foreskin has not been cut away, such a one will be cut off from his people; he has broken my covenant.

15 God further said to Abraham: As for Sarai your wife, do not call her Sarai; her name will be Sarah.[al] 16 I will bless her, and I will give you a son by her. Her also will I bless; she will give rise to nations, and rulers of peoples will issue from her. 17 Abraham fell face down and laughed[am] as he said to himself, “Can a child be born to a man who is a hundred years old? Can Sarah give birth at ninety?” 18 So Abraham said to God, “If only Ishmael could live in your favor!” 19 God replied: Even so, your wife Sarah is to bear you a son, and you shall call him Isaac. It is with him that I will maintain my covenant as an everlasting covenant and with his descendants after him. 20 Now as for Ishmael, I will heed you: I hereby bless him. I will make him fertile and will multiply him exceedingly. He will become the father of twelve chieftains, and I will make of him a great nation. 21 But my covenant I will maintain with Isaac, whom Sarah shall bear to you by this time next year. 22 When he had finished speaking with Abraham, God departed from him.

23 Then Abraham took his son Ishmael and all his slaves, whether born in his house or acquired with his money—every male among the members of Abraham’s household—and he circumcised the flesh of their foreskins on that same day, as God had told him to do. 24 Abraham was ninety-nine years old when the flesh of his foreskin was circumcised, 25 and his son Ishmael was thirteen years old when the flesh of his foreskin was circumcised. 26 Thus, on that same day Abraham and his son Ishmael were circumcised; 27 and all the males of his household, including the slaves born in his house or acquired with his money from foreigners, were circumcised with him.

Chapter 18

Abraham’s Visitors. [an]The Lord appeared to Abraham by the oak of Mamre, as he sat in the entrance of his tent, while the day was growing hot. Looking up, he saw three men standing near him. When he saw them, he ran from the entrance of the tent to greet them; and bowing to the ground, he said: “Sir,[ao] if it please you, do not go on past your servant. Let some water be brought, that you may bathe your feet, and then rest under the tree. Now that you have come to your servant, let me bring you a little food, that you may refresh yourselves; and afterward you may go on your way.” “Very well,” they replied, “do as you have said.”

Abraham hurried into the tent to Sarah and said, “Quick, three measures[ap] of bran flour! Knead it and make bread.” He ran to the herd, picked out a tender, choice calf, and gave it to a servant, who quickly prepared it. Then he got some curds[aq] and milk, as well as the calf that had been prepared, and set these before them, waiting on them under the tree while they ate.

“Where is your wife Sarah?” they asked him. “There in the tent,” he replied. 10 One of them[ar] said, “I will return to you about this time next year, and Sarah will then have a son.” Sarah was listening at the entrance of the tent, just behind him. 11 Now Abraham and Sarah were old, advanced in years, and Sarah had stopped having her menstrual periods. 12 So Sarah laughed[as] to herself and said, “Now that I am worn out and my husband is old, am I still to have sexual pleasure?” 13 But the Lord said to Abraham: “Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Will I really bear a child, old as I am?’ 14 Is anything too marvelous for the Lord to do? At the appointed time, about this time next year, I will return to you, and Sarah will have a son.” 15 Sarah lied, saying, “I did not laugh,” because she was afraid. But he said, “Yes, you did.”

Abraham Intercedes for Sodom. 16 With Abraham walking with them to see them on their way, the men set out from there and looked down toward Sodom. 17 The Lord considered: Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do, 18 now that he is to become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth are to find blessing in him? 19 Indeed, I have singled him out that he may direct his children and his household in the future to keep the way of the Lord by doing what is right and just, so that the Lord may put into effect for Abraham the promises he made about him. 20 So the Lord said: The outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is so great, and their sin so grave,[at] 21 that I must go down to see whether or not their actions are as bad as the cry against them that comes to me. I mean to find out.

22 As the men turned and walked on toward Sodom, Abraham remained standing before the Lord. 23 Then Abraham drew near and said: “Will you really sweep away the righteous with the wicked? 24 Suppose there were fifty righteous people in the city; would you really sweep away and not spare the place for the sake of the fifty righteous people within it? 25 Far be it from you to do such a thing, to kill the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous and the wicked are treated alike! Far be it from you! Should not the judge of all the world do what is just?” 26 The Lord replied: If I find fifty righteous people in the city of Sodom, I will spare the whole place for their sake. 27 Abraham spoke up again: “See how I am presuming to speak to my Lord, though I am only dust and ashes! 28 What if there are five less than fifty righteous people? Will you destroy the whole city because of those five?” I will not destroy it, he answered, if I find forty-five there. 29 But Abraham persisted, saying, “What if only forty are found there?” He replied: I will refrain from doing it for the sake of the forty. 30 Then he said, “Do not let my Lord be angry if I go on. What if only thirty are found there?” He replied: I will refrain from doing it if I can find thirty there. 31 Abraham went on, “Since I have thus presumed to speak to my Lord, what if there are no more than twenty?” I will not destroy it, he answered, for the sake of the twenty. 32 But he persisted: “Please, do not let my Lord be angry if I speak up this last time. What if ten are found there?” For the sake of the ten, he replied, I will not destroy it.

33 The Lord departed as soon as he had finished speaking with Abraham, and Abraham returned home.

Chapter 19

Destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.[au] The two angels reached Sodom in the evening, as Lot was sitting at the gate of Sodom. When Lot saw them, he got up to greet them; and bowing down with his face to the ground, he said, “Please, my lords,[av] come aside into your servant’s house for the night, and bathe your feet; you can get up early to continue your journey.” But they replied, “No, we will pass the night in the town square.” He urged them so strongly, however, that they turned aside to his place and entered his house. He prepared a banquet for them, baking unleavened bread, and they dined.

Before they went to bed, the townsmen of Sodom, both young and old—all the people to the last man—surrounded the house. They called to Lot and said to him, “Where are the men who came to your house tonight? Bring them out to us that we may have sexual relations with them.” Lot went out to meet them at the entrance. When he had shut the door behind him, he said, “I beg you, my brothers, do not do this wicked thing! I have two daughters who have never had sexual relations with men. Let me bring them out to you,[aw] and you may do to them as you please. But do not do anything to these men, for they have come under the shelter of my roof.” They replied, “Stand back! This man,” they said, “came here as a resident alien, and now he dares to give orders! We will treat you worse than them!” With that, they pressed hard against Lot, moving in closer to break down the door. 10 But his guests put out their hands, pulled Lot inside with them, and closed the door; 11 they struck the men at the entrance of the house, small and great, with such a blinding light[ax] that they were utterly unable to find the doorway.

12 Then the guests said to Lot: “Who else belongs to you here? Sons-in-law, your sons, your daughters, all who belong to you in the city—take them away from this place! 13 We are about to destroy this place, for the outcry reaching the Lord against those here is so great that the Lord has sent us to destroy it.” 14 So Lot went out and spoke to his sons-in-law, who had contracted marriage with his daughters.[ay] “Come on, leave this place,” he told them; “the Lord is about to destroy the city.” But his sons-in-law thought he was joking.

15 As dawn was breaking, the angels urged Lot on, saying, “Come on! Take your wife with you and your two daughters who are here, or you will be swept away in the punishment of the city.” 16 When he hesitated, the men, because of the Lord’s compassion for him, seized his hand and the hands of his wife and his two daughters and led them to safety outside the city. 17 As soon as they had brought them outside, they said: “Flee for your life! Do not look back or stop anywhere on the Plain. Flee to the hills at once, or you will be swept away.” 18 “Oh, no, my lords!” Lot replied to them. 19 “You have already shown favor to your servant, doing me the great kindness of saving my life. But I cannot flee to the hills, or the disaster will overtake and kill me. 20 Look, this town ahead is near enough to escape to. It is only a small place.[az] Let me flee there—is it not a small place?—to save my life.” 21 “Well, then,” he replied, “I grant you this favor too. I will not overthrow the town you have mentioned. 22 Hurry, escape there! I cannot do anything until you arrive there.” That is why the town is called Zoar.

23 The sun had risen over the earth when Lot arrived in Zoar, 24 and the Lord rained down sulfur upon Sodom and Gomorrah, fire from the Lord out of heaven. 25 He overthrew[ba] those cities and the whole Plain, together with the inhabitants of the cities and the produce of the soil. 26 But Lot’s wife looked back, and she was turned into a pillar of salt.

27 The next morning Abraham hurried to the place where he had stood before the Lord. 28 As he looked down toward Sodom and Gomorrah and the whole region of the Plain,[bb] he saw smoke over the land rising like the smoke from a kiln.

29 When God destroyed the cities of the Plain, he remembered Abraham and sent Lot away from the upheaval that occurred when God overthrew the cities where Lot had been living.

Moabites and Ammonites.[bc] 30 Since Lot was afraid to stay in Zoar, he and his two daughters went up from Zoar and settled in the hill country, where he lived with his two daughters in a cave. 31 The firstborn said to the younger: “Our father is getting old, and there is not a man in the land to have intercourse with us as is the custom everywhere. 32 Come, let us ply our father with wine and then lie with him, that we may ensure posterity by our father.” 33 So that night they plied their father with wine, and the firstborn went in and lay with her father; but he was not aware of her lying down or getting up. 34 The next day the firstborn said to the younger: “Last night I lay with my father. Let us ply him with wine again tonight, and then you go in and lie with him, that we may ensure posterity by our father.” 35 So that night, too, they plied their father with wine, and then the younger one went in and lay with him; but he was not aware of her lying down or getting up.

36 Thus the two daughters of Lot became pregnant by their father. 37 The firstborn gave birth to a son whom she named Moab, saying, “From my father.”[bd] He is the ancestor of the Moabites of today. 38 The younger one, too, gave birth to a son, and she named him Ammon, saying, “The son of my kin.”[be] He is the ancestor of the Ammonites of today.

Chapter 20

Abraham at Gerar.[bf] From there Abraham journeyed on to the region of the Negeb, where he settled between Kadesh and Shur.[bg] While he resided in Gerar as an alien, Abraham said of his wife Sarah, “She is my sister.” So Abimelech, king of Gerar, sent and took Sarah. But God came to Abimelech in a dream one night and said to him: You are about to die because of the woman you have taken, for she has a husband. Abimelech, who had not approached her, said: “O Lord, would you kill an innocent man? Was he not the one who told me, ‘She is my sister’? She herself also stated, ‘He is my brother.’ I acted with pure heart and with clean hands.” [bh]God answered him in the dream: Yes, I know you did it with a pure heart. In fact, it was I who kept you from sinning against me; that is why I did not let you touch her. So now, return the man’s wife so that he may intercede for you, since he is a prophet,[bi] that you may live. If you do not return her, you can be sure that you and all who are yours will die.

Early the next morning Abimelech called all his servants and informed them of everything that had happened, and the men were filled with fear. Then Abimelech summoned Abraham and said to him: “What have you done to us! What wrong did I do to you that you would have brought such great guilt on me and my kingdom? You have treated me in an intolerable way. 10 What did you have in mind,” Abimelech asked him, “that you would do such a thing?” 11 Abraham answered, “I thought there would be no fear of God[bj] in this place, and so they would kill me on account of my wife. 12 Besides, she really is my sister,[bk] but only my father’s daughter, not my mother’s; and so she became my wife. 13 When God sent me wandering from my father’s house, I asked her: ‘Would you do me this favor? In whatever place we come to, say: He is my brother.’”

14 Then Abimelech took flocks and herds and male and female slaves and gave them to Abraham; and he restored his wife Sarah to him. 15 Then Abimelech said, “Here, my land is at your disposal; settle wherever you please.” 16 To Sarah he said: “I hereby give your brother a thousand shekels of silver. This will preserve your honor before all who are with you and will exonerate you before everyone.” 17 Abraham then interceded with God, and God restored health to Abimelech, to his wife, and his maidservants, so that they bore children; 18 for the Lord had closed every womb in Abimelech’s household on account of Abraham’s wife Sarah.

Chapter 21

Birth of Isaac.[bl] The Lord took note of Sarah as he had said he would; the Lord did for her as he had promised. Sarah became pregnant and bore Abraham a son in his old age, at the set time that God had stated. Abraham gave the name Isaac to this son of his whom Sarah bore him. When his son Isaac was eight days old, Abraham circumcised him, as God had commanded. Abraham was a hundred years old when his son Isaac was born to him. Sarah then said, “God has given me cause to laugh,[bm] and all who hear of it will laugh with me. Who would ever have told Abraham,” she added, “that Sarah would nurse children! Yet I have borne him a son in his old age.” The child grew and was weaned, and Abraham held a great banquet on the day of the child’s weaning.

Sarah noticed the son whom Hagar the Egyptian had borne to Abraham playing with her son Isaac; 10 so she demanded of Abraham: “Drive out that slave and her son! No son of that slave is going to share the inheritance with my son Isaac!” 11 Abraham was greatly distressed because it concerned a son of his.[bn] 12 But God said to Abraham: Do not be distressed about the boy or about your slave woman. Obey Sarah, no matter what she asks of you; for it is through Isaac that descendants will bear your name. 13 As for the son of the slave woman, I will make a nation of him also,[bo] since he too is your offspring.

14 Early the next morning Abraham got some bread and a skin of water and gave them to Hagar. Then, placing the child on her back,[bp] he sent her away. As she roamed aimlessly in the wilderness of Beer-sheba, 15 the water in the skin was used up. So she put the child down under one of the bushes, 16 and then went and sat down opposite him, about a bowshot away; for she said to herself, “I cannot watch the child die.” As she sat opposite him, she wept aloud. 17 God heard the boy’s voice, and God’s angel called to Hagar from heaven: “What is the matter, Hagar? Do not fear; God has heard the boy’s voice in this plight of his. 18 Get up, lift up the boy and hold him by the hand; for I will make of him a great nation.” 19 Then God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water. She went and filled the skin with water, and then let the boy drink.

20 God was with the boy as he grew up. He lived in the wilderness and became an expert bowman. 21 He lived in the wilderness of Paran. His mother got a wife for him from the land of Egypt.

The Covenant at Beer-sheba. 22 [bq]At that time Abimelech, accompanied by Phicol, the commander of his army, said to Abraham: “God is with you in everything you do. 23 So now, swear to me by God at this place[br] that you will not deal falsely with me or with my progeny and posterity, but will act as loyally toward me and the land in which you reside as I have acted toward you.” 24 Abraham replied, “I so swear.”

25 Abraham, however, reproached Abimelech about a well that Abimelech’s servants had seized by force. 26 “I have no idea who did that,” Abimelech replied. “In fact, you never told me about it, nor did I ever hear of it until now.”

27 Then Abraham took sheep and cattle and gave them to Abimelech and the two made a covenant. 28 Abraham also set apart seven ewe lambs of the flock, 29 and Abimelech asked him, “What is the purpose of these seven ewe lambs that you have set apart?” 30 Abraham answered, “The seven ewe lambs you shall accept from me that you may be my witness that I dug this well.” 31 This is why the place is called Beer-sheba; the two of them took an oath there. 32 When they had thus made the covenant in Beer-sheba, Abimelech, along with Phicol, the commander of his army, left to return to the land of the Philistines.[bs]

33 Abraham planted a tamarisk at Beer-sheba, and there he invoked by name the Lord, God the Eternal.[bt] 34 Abraham resided in the land of the Philistines for a long time.

Chapter 22

The Testing of Abraham.[bu] Some time afterward, God put Abraham to the test and said to him: Abraham! “Here I am!” he replied. Then God said: Take your son Isaac, your only one, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah. There offer him up as a burnt offering on one of the heights that I will point out to you. Early the next morning Abraham saddled his donkey, took with him two of his servants and his son Isaac, and after cutting the wood for the burnt offering, set out for the place of which God had told him.

On the third day Abraham caught sight of the place from a distance. Abraham said to his servants: “Stay here with the donkey, while the boy and I go on over there. We will worship and then come back to you.” So Abraham took the wood for the burnt offering and laid it on his son Isaac, while he himself carried the fire and the knife. As the two walked on together, Isaac spoke to his father Abraham. “Father!” he said. “Here I am,” he replied. Isaac continued, “Here are the fire and the wood, but where is the sheep for the burnt offering?” “My son,” Abraham answered, “God will provide the sheep for the burnt offering.” Then the two walked on together.

When they came to the place of which God had told him, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. Next he bound[bv] his son Isaac, and put him on top of the wood on the altar. 10 Then Abraham reached out and took the knife to slaughter his son. 11 But the angel of the Lord called to him from heaven, “Abraham, Abraham!” “Here I am,” he answered. 12 “Do not lay your hand on the boy,” said the angel. “Do not do the least thing to him. For now I know that you fear God, since you did not withhold from me your son, your only one.” 13 Abraham looked up and saw a single ram caught by its horns in the thicket. So Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering in place of his son.[bw] 14 Abraham named that place Yahweh-yireh;[bx] hence people today say, “On the mountain the Lord will provide.”

15 [by]A second time the angel of the Lord called to Abraham from heaven 16 and said: “I swear by my very self—oracle of the Lord—that because you acted as you did in not withholding from me your son, your only one, 17 I will bless you and make your descendants as countless as the stars of the sky and the sands of the seashore; your descendants will take possession of the gates of their enemies, 18 and in your descendants all the nations of the earth will find blessing, because you obeyed my command.”

19 Abraham then returned to his servants, and they set out together for Beer-sheba, where Abraham lived.

Nahor’s Descendants.[bz] 20 Some time afterward, the news came to Abraham: “Milcah too has borne sons to your brother Nahor: 21 Uz, his firstborn, his brother Buz, Kemuel the father of Aram, 22 Chesed, Hazo, Pildash, Jidlaph, and Bethuel.” 23 Bethuel became the father of Rebekah. These eight Milcah bore to Nahor, Abraham’s brother. 24 His concubine, whose name was Reumah, also bore children: Tebah, Gaham, Tahash, and Maacah.

Chapter 23

Purchase of a Burial Plot.[ca] The span of Sarah’s life was one hundred and twenty-seven years. She died in Kiriath-arba—now Hebron—in the land of Canaan, and Abraham proceeded to mourn and weep for her. Then he left the side of his deceased wife and addressed the Hittites:[cb] “Although I am a resident alien[cc] among you, sell me from your holdings a burial place, that I may bury my deceased wife.” The Hittites answered Abraham: “Please, sir, listen to us! You are a mighty leader among us. Bury your dead in the choicest of our burial sites. None of us would deny you his burial ground for the burial of your dead.” Abraham, however, proceeded to bow low before the people of the land, the Hittites, and said to them: “If you will allow me room for burial of my dead, listen to me! Intercede for me with Ephron, son of Zohar, so that he will sell me the cave of Machpelah that he owns; it is at the edge of his field. Let him sell it to me in your presence at its full price for a burial place.”

10 Now Ephron was sitting with the Hittites. So Ephron the Hittite replied to Abraham in the hearing of the Hittites, all who entered the gate of his city: 11 “Please, sir, listen to me! I give you both the field and the cave in it; in the presence of my people I give it to you. Bury your dead!” 12 But Abraham, after bowing low before the people of the land, 13 addressed Ephron in the hearing of these men: “If only you would please listen to me! I will pay you the price of the field. Accept it from me, that I may bury my dead there.” 14 Ephron replied to Abraham, “Please, 15 sir, listen to me! A piece of land worth four hundred shekels[cd] of silver—what is that between you and me? Bury your dead!” 16 Abraham accepted Ephron’s terms; he weighed out to him the silver that Ephron had stipulated in the hearing of the Hittites, four hundred shekels of silver at the current market value.[ce]

17 Thus Ephron’s field in Machpelah, facing Mamre, together with its cave and all the trees anywhere within its limits, was conveyed 18 to Abraham by purchase in the presence of the Hittites, all who entered the gate of Ephron’s city. 19 After this, Abraham buried his wife Sarah in the cave of the field of Machpelah, facing Mamre—now Hebron—in the land of Canaan. 20 Thus the field with its cave was transferred from the Hittites to Abraham as a burial place.

Chapter 24

Isaac and Rebekah.[cf] Abraham was old, having seen many days, and the Lord had blessed him in every way. Abraham said to the senior servant of his household, who had charge of all his possessions: “Put your hand under my thigh,[cg] and I will make you swear by the Lord, the God of heaven and the God of earth, that you will not take a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites among whom I live, but that you will go to my own land and to my relatives to get a wife for my son Isaac.” The servant asked him: “What if the woman is unwilling to follow me to this land? Should I then take your son back to the land from which you came?” Abraham told him, “Never take my son back there for any reason! The Lord, the God of heaven, who took me from my father’s house and the land of my relatives, and who confirmed by oath the promise he made to me, ‘I will give this land to your descendants’—he will send his angel before you, and you will get a wife for my son there. If the woman is unwilling to follow you, you will be released from this oath to me. But never take my son back there!” So the servant put his hand under the thigh of his master Abraham and swore to him concerning this matter.

10 The servant then took ten of his master’s camels, and bearing all kinds of gifts from his master, he made his way to the city of Nahor[ch] in Aram Naharaim. 11 Near evening, at the time when women go out to draw water, he made the camels kneel by the well outside the city. 12 Then he said: “Lord, God of my master Abraham, let it turn out favorably for me[ci] today and thus deal graciously with my master Abraham. 13 While I stand here at the spring and the daughters of the townspeople are coming out to draw water, 14 if I say to a young woman, ‘Please lower your jug, that I may drink,’ and she answers, ‘Drink, and I will water your camels, too,’ then she is the one whom you have decided upon for your servant Isaac. In this way I will know that you have dealt graciously with my master.”

15 He had scarcely finished speaking when Rebekah—who was born to Bethuel, son of Milcah, the wife of Abraham’s brother Nahor—came out with a jug on her shoulder. 16 The young woman was very beautiful, a virgin, untouched by man. She went down to the spring and filled her jug. As she came up, 17 the servant ran toward her and said, “Please give me a sip of water from your jug.” 18 “Drink, sir,” she replied, and quickly lowering the jug into her hand, she gave him a drink. 19 When she had finished giving him a drink, she said, “I will draw water for your camels, too, until they have finished drinking.” 20 With that, she quickly emptied her jug into the drinking trough and ran back to the well to draw more water, until she had drawn enough for all the camels. 21 The man watched her the whole time, silently waiting to learn whether or not the Lord had made his journey successful. 22 When the camels had finished drinking, the man took out a gold nose-ring weighing half a shekel, and two gold bracelets weighing ten shekels for her wrists. 23 Then he asked her: “Whose daughter are you? Tell me, please. And is there a place in your father’s house for us to spend the night?” 24 She answered: “I am the daughter of Bethuel the son of Milcah, whom she bore to Nahor. 25 We have plenty of straw and fodder,” she added, “and also a place to spend the night.” 26 The man then knelt and bowed down to the Lord, 27 saying: “Blessed be the Lord, the God of my master Abraham, who has not let his kindness and fidelity toward my master fail. As for me, the Lord has led me straight to the house of my master’s brother.”

28 Then the young woman ran off and told her mother’s household what had happened. 29 Now Rebekah had a brother named Laban. Laban rushed outside to the man at the spring. 30 [cj]When he saw the nose-ring and the bracelets on his sister’s arms and when he heard Rebekah repeating what the man had said to her, he went to him while he was standing by the camels at the spring. 31 He said: “Come, blessed of the Lord! Why are you standing outside when I have made the house ready, as well as a place for the camels?” 32 The man then went inside; and while the camels were being unloaded and provided with straw and fodder, water was brought to bathe his feet and the feet of the men who were with him. 33 But when food was set before him, he said, “I will not eat until I have told my story.” “Go ahead,” they replied.

34 “I am Abraham’s servant,” he began. 35 “The Lord has blessed my master so abundantly that he has become wealthy; he has given him flocks and herds, silver and gold, male and female slaves, and camels and donkeys. 36 My master’s wife Sarah bore a son to my master in her old age, and he has given him everything he owns. 37 My master put me under oath, saying: ‘You shall not take a wife for my son from the daughters of the Canaanites in whose land I live; 38 instead, you must go to my father’s house, to my own family, to get a wife for my son.’ 39 When I asked my master, ‘What if the woman will not follow me?’ 40 he replied: ‘The Lord, in whose presence I have always walked, will send his angel with you and make your journey successful, and so you will get a wife for my son from my own family and my father’s house. 41 Then you will be freed from my curse. If you go to my family and they refuse you, then, too, you will be free from my curse.’[ck]

42 “When I came to the spring today, I said: ‘Lord, God of my master Abraham, please make successful the journey I am on. 43 While I stand here at the spring, if I say to a young woman who comes out to draw water, ‘Please give me a little water from your jug,’ 44 and she answers, ‘Drink, and I will draw water for your camels, too—then she is the woman whom the Lord has decided upon for my master’s son.’

45 “I had scarcely finished saying this to myself when Rebekah came out with a jug on her shoulder. After she went down to the spring and drew water, I said to her, ‘Please let me have a drink.’ 46 She quickly lowered the jug she was carrying and said, ‘Drink, and I will water your camels, too.’ So I drank, and she watered the camels also. 47 When I asked her, ‘Whose daughter are you?’ she answered, ‘The daughter of Bethuel, son of Nahor, borne to Nahor by Milcah.’ So I put the ring on her nose and the bracelets on her wrists. 48 Then I knelt and bowed down to the Lord, blessing the Lord, the God of my master Abraham, who had led me on the right road to obtain the daughter of my master’s kinsman for his son. 49 Now, if you will act with kindness and fidelity toward my master, let me know; but if not, let me know that too. I can then proceed accordingly.”

50 Laban and Bethuel said in reply: “This thing comes from the Lord; we can say nothing to you either for or against it. 51 Here is Rebekah, right in front of you; take her and go, that she may become the wife of your master’s son, as the Lord has said.” 52 When Abraham’s servant heard their answer, he bowed to the ground before the Lord. 53 Then he brought out objects of silver and gold and clothing and presented them to Rebekah; he also gave costly presents to her brother and mother. 54 After he and the men with him had eaten and drunk, they spent the night there.

When they got up the next morning, he said, “Allow me to return to my master.” 55 Her brother and mother replied, “Let the young woman stay with us a short while, say ten days; after that she may go.” 56 But he said to them, “Do not detain me, now that the Lord has made my journey successful; let me go back to my master.” 57 They answered, “Let us call the young woman and see what she herself has to say about it.” 58 So they called Rebekah and asked her, “Will you go with this man?” She answered, “I will.”[cl] 59 At this they sent off their sister Rebekah and her nurse with Abraham’s servant and his men. 60 They blessed Rebekah and said:

“Sister, may you grow
    into thousands of myriads;
And may your descendants gain possession
    of the gates of their enemies!”

61 Then Rebekah and her attendants started out; they mounted the camels and followed the man. So the servant took Rebekah and went on his way.

62 Meanwhile Isaac had gone from Beer-lahai-roi and was living in the region of the Negeb. 63 One day toward evening he went out to walk in the field, and caught sight of camels approaching. 64 Rebekah, too, caught sight of Isaac, and got down from her camel. 65 She asked the servant, “Who is the man over there, walking through the fields toward us?” “That is my master,” replied the servant. Then she took her veil and covered herself.

66 The servant recounted to Isaac all the things he had done. 67 Then Isaac brought Rebekah into the tent of his mother Sarah. He took Rebekah as his wife. Isaac loved her and found solace after the death of his mother.

Chapter 25

Abraham’s Sons by Keturah. [cm]Abraham took another wife, whose name was Keturah. She bore him Zimran, Jokshan, Medan, Midian, Ishbak, and Shuah.[cn] Jokshan became the father of Sheba and Dedan. The descendants of Dedan were the Asshurim, the Letushim, and the Leummim. The descendants of Midian were Ephah, Epher, Hanoch, Abida, and Eldaah. All of these were descendants of Keturah.

Abraham gave everything that he owned to his son Isaac.[co] To the sons of his concubines, however, he gave gifts while he was still living, as he sent them away eastward, to the land of Kedem,[cp] away from his son Isaac.

Death of Abraham. The whole span of Abraham’s life was one hundred and seventy-five years. Then he breathed his last, dying at a ripe old age, grown old after a full life; and he was gathered to his people. His sons Isaac and Ishmael buried him in the cave of Machpelah, in the field of Ephron, son of Zohar the Hittite, which faces Mamre, 10 the field that Abraham had bought from the Hittites; there he was buried next to his wife Sarah. 11 After the death of Abraham, God blessed his son Isaac, who lived near Beer-lahai-roi.

Descendants of Ishmael. 12 [cq]These are the descendants of Abraham’s son Ishmael, whom Hagar the Egyptian, Sarah’s slave, bore to Abraham. 13 These are the names of Ishmael’s sons, listed in the order of their birth: Ishmael’s firstborn Nebaioth, Kedar, Adbeel, Mibsam, 14 Mishma, Dumah, Massa, 15 Hadad, Tema, Jetur, Naphish, and Kedemah. 16 These are the sons of Ishmael, their names by their villages and encampments; twelve chieftains of as many tribal groups.

17 The span of Ishmael’s life was one hundred and thirty-seven years. After he had breathed his last and died, he was gathered to his people. 18 The Ishmaelites ranged from Havilah, by Shur, which is on the border of Egypt, all the way to Asshur; and they pitched camp[cr] alongside their various kindred.

Birth of Esau and Jacob. 19 [cs]These are the descendants of Isaac, son of Abraham; Abraham begot Isaac. 20 Isaac was forty years old when he married Rebekah, the daughter of Bethuel the Aramean of Paddan-aram[ct] and the sister of Laban the Aramean. 21 Isaac entreated the Lord on behalf of his wife, since she was sterile. The Lord heard his entreaty, and his wife Rebekah became pregnant. 22 But the children jostled each other in the womb so much that she exclaimed, “If it is like this,[cu] why go on living!” She went to consult the Lord, 23 and the Lord answered her:

Two nations are in your womb,
    two peoples are separating while still within you;
But one will be stronger than the other,
    and the older will serve the younger.[cv]

24 When the time of her delivery came, there were twins in her womb. 25 The first to emerge was reddish,[cw] and his whole body was like a hairy mantle; so they named him Esau. 26 Next his brother came out, gripping Esau’s heel;[cx] so he was named Jacob. Isaac was sixty years old when they were born.

27 When the boys grew up, Esau became a skillful hunter, a man of the open country; whereas Jacob was a simple[cy] man, who stayed among the tents. 28 Isaac preferred Esau, because he was fond of game; but Rebekah preferred Jacob. 29 Once, when Jacob was cooking a stew, Esau came in from the open country, famished. 30 He said to Jacob, “Let me gulp down some of that red stuff;[cz] I am famished.” That is why he was called Edom. 31 But Jacob replied, “First sell me your right as firstborn.”[da] 32 “Look,” said Esau, “I am on the point of dying. What good is the right as firstborn to me?” 33 But Jacob said, “Swear to me first!” So he sold Jacob his right as firstborn under oath. 34 Jacob then gave him some bread and the lentil stew; and Esau ate, drank, got up, and went his way. So Esau treated his right as firstborn with disdain.

Chapter 26

Isaac and Abimelech. [db]There was a famine in the land, distinct from the earlier one that had occurred in the days of Abraham, and Isaac went down to Abimelech, king of the Philistines in Gerar. The Lord appeared to him and said: Do not go down to Egypt, but camp in this land wherever I tell you. Sojourn in this land, and I will be with you and bless you; for to you and your descendants I will give all these lands, in fulfillment of the oath that I swore to your father Abraham. I will make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky, and I will give them all these lands, and in your descendants all the nations of the earth will find blessing— this because Abraham obeyed me, keeping my mandate, my commandments, my ordinances, and my instructions.

[dc]So Isaac settled in Gerar. When the men of the place asked questions about his wife, he answered, “She is my sister.” He was afraid that, if he called her his wife, the men of the place would kill him on account of Rebekah, since she was beautiful. But when they had been there for a long time, Abimelech, king of the Philistines, looked out of a window and saw Isaac fondling his wife Rebekah. He called for Isaac and said: “She must certainly be your wife! How could you have said, ‘She is my sister’?” Isaac replied, “I thought I might lose my life on her account.” 10 “How could you have done this to us!” exclaimed Abimelech. “It would have taken very little for one of the people to lie with your wife, and so you would have brought guilt upon us!” 11 Abimelech then commanded all the people: “Anyone who maltreats this man or his wife shall be put to death.”

12 [dd]Isaac sowed a crop in that region and reaped a hundredfold the same year. Since the Lord blessed him, 13 he became richer and richer all the time, until he was very wealthy. 14 He acquired flocks and herds, and a great work force, and so the Philistines became envious of him. 15 The Philistines had stopped up and filled with dirt all the wells that his father’s servants had dug back in the days of his father Abraham. 16 So Abimelech said to Isaac, “Go away from us; you have become far too numerous for us.” 17 Isaac left there and camped in the Wadi Gerar where he stayed. 18 Isaac reopened the wells which his father’s servants had dug back in the days of his father Abraham and which the Philistines had stopped up after Abraham’s death; he gave them names like those that his father had given them. 19 But when Isaac’s servants dug in the wadi and reached spring water in their well, 20 the shepherds of Gerar argued with Isaac’s shepherds, saying, “The water belongs to us!” So he named the well Esek,[de] because they had quarreled there. 21 Then they dug another well, and they argued over that one too; so he named it Sitnah.[df] 22 So he moved on from there and dug still another well, but over this one they did not argue. He named it Rehoboth,[dg] and said, “Because the Lord has now given us ample room, we shall flourish in the land.”

23 From there Isaac went up to Beer-sheba. 24 The same night the Lord appeared to him and said: I am the God of Abraham, your father. Do not fear, for I am with you. I will bless you and multiply your descendants for the sake of Abraham, my servant. 25 So Isaac built an altar there and invoked the Lord by name. After he had pitched his tent there, Isaac’s servants began to dig a well nearby.

26 Then Abimelech came to him from Gerar, with Ahuzzath, his councilor, and Phicol, the general of his army. 27 Isaac asked them, “Why have you come to me, since you hate me and have driven me away from you?” 28 They answered: “We clearly see that the Lord has been with you, so we thought: let there be a sworn agreement between our two sides—between you and us. Let us make a covenant with you: 29 you shall do no harm to us, just as we have not maltreated you, but have always acted kindly toward you and have let you depart in peace. So now, may you be blessed by the Lord!” 30 Isaac then made a feast for them, and they ate and drank. 31 Early the next morning they exchanged oaths. Then Isaac sent them on their way, and they departed from him in peace.

32 That same day Isaac’s servants came and informed him about the well they had been digging; they told him, “We have reached water!” 33 He called it Shibah;[dh] hence the name of the city is Beer-sheba to this day. 34 [di]When Esau was forty years old, he married Judith, daughter of Beeri the Hittite, and Basemath, daughter of Elon the Hivite. 35 But they became a source of bitterness to Isaac and Rebekah.

Chapter 27

Jacob’s Deception.[dj] When Isaac was so old that his eyesight had failed him, he called his older son Esau and said to him, “My son!” “Here I am!” he replied. Isaac then said, “Now I have grown old. I do not know when I might die. So now take your hunting gear—your quiver and bow—and go out into the open country to hunt some game for me. Then prepare for me a dish in the way I like, and bring it to me to eat, so that I may bless you[dk] before I die.”

Rebekah had been listening while Isaac was speaking to his son Esau. So when Esau went out into the open country to hunt some game for his father, Rebekah said to her son Jacob, “Listen! I heard your father tell your brother Esau, ‘Bring me some game and prepare a dish for me to eat, that I may bless you with the Lord’s approval before I die.’ Now, my son, obey me in what I am about to order you. Go to the flock and get me two choice young goats so that with these I might prepare a dish for your father in the way he likes. 10 Then bring it to your father to eat, that he may bless you before he dies.” 11 But Jacob said to his mother Rebekah, “But my brother Esau is a hairy man and I am smooth-skinned! 12 Suppose my father feels me? He will think I am making fun of him, and I will bring on myself a curse instead of a blessing.” 13 His mother, however, replied: “Let any curse against you, my son, fall on me! Just obey me. Go and get me the young goats.”

14 So Jacob went and got them and brought them to his mother, and she prepared a dish in the way his father liked. 15 Rebekah then took the best clothes of her older son Esau that she had in the house, and gave them to her younger son Jacob to wear; 16 and with the goatskins she covered up his hands and the hairless part of his neck. 17 Then she gave her son Jacob the dish and the bread she had prepared.

18 Going to his father, Jacob said, “Father!” “Yes?” replied Isaac. “Which of my sons are you?” 19 Jacob answered his father: “I am Esau, your firstborn. I did as you told me. Please sit up and eat some of my game, so that you may bless me.” 20 But Isaac said to his son, “How did you get it so quickly, my son?” He answered, “The Lord, your God, directed me.” 21 Isaac then said to Jacob, “Come closer, my son, that I may feel you, to learn whether you really are my son Esau or not.” 22 So Jacob moved up closer to his father. When Isaac felt him, he said, “Although the voice is Jacob’s, the hands are Esau’s.” 23 (He failed to identify him because his hands were hairy, like those of his brother Esau; so he blessed him.) 24 Again Isaac said, “Are you really my son Esau?” And Jacob said, “I am.” 25 Then Isaac said, “Serve me, my son, and let me eat of the game so that I may bless you.” Jacob served it to him, and Isaac ate; he brought him wine, and he drank. 26 Finally his father Isaac said to him, “Come closer, my son, and kiss me.” 27 As Jacob went up to kiss him, Isaac smelled the fragrance of his clothes. With that, he blessed him, saying,

“Ah, the fragrance of my son
    is like the fragrance of a field
    that the Lord has blessed!
28 May God give to you
    of the dew of the heavens
And of the fertility of the earth
    abundance of grain and wine.
29 May peoples serve you,
    and nations bow down to you;
Be master of your brothers,
    and may your mother’s sons bow down to you.
Cursed be those who curse you,
    and blessed be those who bless you.”

30 Jacob had scarcely left his father after Isaac had finished blessing him, when his brother Esau came back from his hunt. 31 Then he too prepared a dish, and bringing it to his father, he said, “Let my father sit up and eat some of his son’s game, that you may then give me your blessing.” 32 His father Isaac asked him, “Who are you?” He said, “I am your son, your firstborn son, Esau.” 33 Isaac trembled greatly. “Who was it, then,” he asked, “that hunted game and brought it to me? I ate it all just before you came, and I blessed him. Now he is blessed!” 34 As he heard his father’s words, Esau burst into loud, bitter sobbing and said, “Father, bless me too!” 35 When Isaac said, “Your brother came here by a ruse and carried off your blessing,” 36 Esau exclaimed, “He is well named Jacob, is he not! He has supplanted me[dl] twice! First he took away my right as firstborn, and now he has taken away my blessing.” Then he said, “Have you not saved a blessing for me?” 37 Isaac replied to Esau: “I have already appointed him your master, and I have assigned to him all his kindred as his servants; besides, I have sustained him with grain and wine. What then can I do for you, my son?” 38 But Esau said to his father, “Have you only one blessing, father? Bless me too, father!” and Esau wept aloud. 39 His father Isaac said in response:

“See, far from the fertile earth
    will be your dwelling;
    far from the dew of the heavens above!
40 By your sword you will live,
    and your brother you will serve;
But when you become restless,
    you will throw off his yoke from your neck.”

41 Esau bore a grudge against Jacob because of the blessing his father had given him. Esau said to himself, “Let the time of mourning for my father come, so that I may kill my brother Jacob.” 42 When Rebekah got news of what her older son Esau had in mind, she summoned her younger son Jacob and said to him: “Listen! Your brother Esau intends to get his revenge by killing you. 43 So now, my son, obey me: flee at once to my brother Laban in Haran, 44 and stay with him a while until your brother’s fury subsides— 45 until your brother’s anger against you subsides and he forgets what you did to him. Then I will send for you and bring you back. Why should I lose both of you in a single day?”

Jacob Sent to Laban. 46 Rebekah said to Isaac: “I am disgusted with life because of the Hittite women. If Jacob also should marry a Hittite woman, a native of the land, like these women, why should I live?”

Chapter 28

[dm]Isaac therefore summoned Jacob and blessed him, charging him: “You shall not marry a Canaanite woman! Go now to Paddan-aram, to the home of your mother’s father Bethuel, and there choose a wife for yourself from among the daughters of Laban, your mother’s brother. May God Almighty bless you and make you fertile, multiply you that you may become an assembly of peoples. May God extend to you and your descendants the blessing of Abraham, so that you may gain possession of the land where you are residing, which he assigned to Abraham.” Then Isaac sent Jacob on his way; he went to Paddan-aram, to Laban, son of Bethuel the Aramean, and brother of Rebekah, the mother of Jacob and Esau.

Esau noted that Isaac had blessed Jacob when he sent him to Paddan-aram to get himself a wife there, and that, as he gave him his blessing, he charged him, “You shall not marry a Canaanite woman,” and that Jacob had obeyed his father and mother and gone to Paddan-aram. Esau realized how displeasing the Canaanite women were to his father Isaac, so Esau went to Ishmael, and in addition to the wives he had, married Mahalath, the daughter of Abraham’s son Ishmael and sister of Nebaioth.

Jacob’s Dream at Bethel.[dn] 10 Jacob departed from Beer-sheba and proceeded toward Haran. 11 When he came upon a certain place,[do] he stopped there for the night, since the sun had already set. Taking one of the stones at the place, he put it under his head and lay down in that place. 12 Then he had a dream: a stairway[dp] rested on the ground, with its top reaching to the heavens; and God’s angels were going up and down on it. 13 And there was the Lord standing beside him and saying: I am the Lord, the God of Abraham your father and the God of Isaac; the land on which you are lying I will give to you and your descendants. 14 Your descendants will be like the dust of the earth, and through them you will spread to the west and the east, to the north and the south. In you and your descendants all the families of the earth will find blessing. 15 I am with you and will protect you wherever you go, and bring you back to this land. I will never leave you until I have done what I promised you.

16 When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he said, “Truly, the Lord is in this place and I did not know it!” 17 He was afraid and said: “How awesome this place is! This is nothing else but the house of God, the gateway to heaven!” 18 Early the next morning Jacob took the stone that he had put under his head, set it up as a sacred pillar,[dq] and poured oil on top of it. 19 He named that place Bethel,[dr] whereas the former name of the town had been Luz.

Footnotes:

  1. 11:27 Descendants of Terah: elsewhere in Genesis the story of the son is introduced by the name of the father (25:12, 19; 36:1; 37:2). The Abraham-Sarah stories begin (11:27–32) and end with genealogical notices (25:1–18), which concern, respectively, the families of Terah and of Abraham. Most of the traditions in the cycle are from the Yahwist source. The so-called Elohist source (E) is somewhat shadowy, denied by some scholars but recognized by others in passages that duplicate other narratives (20:1–18 and 21:22–34). The Priestly source consists mostly of brief editorial notices, except for chaps. 17 and 23.
  2. 11:28 Ur of the Chaldeans: Ur was an extremely ancient city of the Sumerians (later, of the Babylonians) in southern Mesopotamia. The Greek text has “the land of the Chaldeans.” After a millennium of relative unimportance, Ur underwent a revival during the Neo-Babylonian/Chaldean empire (625–539 B.C.). The sixth-century author here identified the place by its contemporary name. As chap. 24 shows, Haran in northern Mesopotamia is in fact the native place of Abraham. In the Genesis perspective, the human race originated in the East (3:24; 4:16) and migrated from there to their homelands (11:2). Terah’s family moved from the East (Ur) and Abraham will complete the journey to the family’s true homeland in the following chapters.
  3. 11:29 Sarai: like Abram, a dialectal variant of the more usual form of the name Sarah. In 17:15, God will change it to Sarah in view of her new task.
  4. 11:32 Since Terah was seventy years old when his son Abraham was born (v. 26), and Abraham was seventy-five when he left Haran (12:4), Terah lived in Haran for sixty years after Abraham’s departure. According to the tradition in the Samaritan text, Terah died when he was one hundred and forty-five years old, therefore, in the same year in which Abraham left Haran. This is the tradition followed in Stephen’s speech: Abraham left Haran “after his father died” (Acts 7:4).
  5. 12:1–3 Go forth…find blessing in you: the syntax of the Hebrew suggests that the blessings promised to Abraham are contingent on his going to Canaan.
  6. 12:2 The call of Abraham begins a new history of blessing (18:18; 22:15–18), which is passed on in each instance to the chosen successor (26:2–4; 28:14). This call evokes the last story in the primeval history (11:1–9) by reversing its themes: Abraham goes forth rather than settle down; it is God rather than Abraham who will make a name for him; the families of the earth will find blessing in him.
  7. 12:3 Will find blessing in you: the Hebrew conjugation of the verb here and in 18:18 and 28:14 can be either reflexive (“shall bless themselves by you” = people will invoke Abraham as an example of someone blessed by God) or passive (“by you all the families of earth will be blessed” = the religious privileges of Abraham and his descendants ultimately will be extended to the nations). In 22:18 and 26:4, another conjugation of the same verb is used in a similar context that is undoubtedly reflexive (“bless themselves”). Many scholars suggest that the two passages in which the sense is clear should determine the interpretation of the three ambiguous passages: the privileged blessing enjoyed by Abraham and his descendants will awaken in all peoples the desire to enjoy those same blessings. Since the term is understood in a passive sense in the New Testament (Acts 3:25; Gal 3:8), it is rendered here by a neutral expression that admits of both meanings.
  8. 12:5 The ancestors appear in Genesis as pastoral nomads living at the edge of settled society, and having occasional dealings with the inhabitants, sometimes even moving into towns for brief periods. Unlike modern nomads such as the Bedouin, however, ancient pastoralists fluctuated between following the herds and sedentary life, depending on circumstances. Pastoralists could settle down and farm and later resume a pastoral way of life. Indeed, there was a symbiotic relationship between pastoralists and villagers, each providing goods to the other. Persons: servants and others who formed the larger household under the leadership of Abraham; cf. 14:14.
  9. 12:6 Abraham’s journey to the center of the land, Shechem, then to Bethel, and then to the Negeb, is duplicated in Jacob’s journeys (33:18; 35:1, 6, 27; 46:1) and in the general route of the conquest under Joshua (Jos 7:2; 8:9, 30). Abraham’s journey is a symbolic “conquest” of the land he has been promised. In building altars here (vv. 7, 8) and elsewhere, Abraham acknowledges his God as Lord of the land.
  10. 12:9 The Negeb: the semidesert land south of Judah.
  11. 12:10–13:1 Abraham and Sarah’s sojourn in Egypt and encounter with Pharaoh foreshadow their descendants’ experience, suggesting a divine design in which they must learn to trust. The story of Sarah, the ancestor in danger, is told again in chap. 20, and also in 26:1–11 with Rebekah instead of Sarah. Repetition of similar events is not unusual in literature that has been orally shaped.
  12. 12:13 You are my sister: the text does not try to excuse Abraham’s deception, though in 20:12 a similar deception is somewhat excused.
  13. 12:16 Camels: domesticated camels did not come into common use in the ancient Near East until the end of the second millennium B.C. Thus the mention of camels here (24:11–64; 30:43; 31:17, 34; 32:8, 16; 37:25) is seemingly an anachronism.
  14. 13:2–18 In this story of Abraham and Lot going their separate ways, Abraham resolves a family dispute by an act that shows both trust in God and generosity toward his nephew. The story suggests Lot rather than Abraham is the natural choice to be the ancestor of a great family; he is young and he takes the most fertile land (outside the land of Canaan). In contrast to Lot, who lifts his eyes to choose for himself (vv. 10–11), Abraham waits for God to tell him to lift his eyes and see the land he will receive (v. 14). Chaps. 18–19 continue the story of Abraham and Lot. Abraham’s visionary possession of the land foreshadows that of Moses (Dt 3:27; 34:4).
  15. 14:1 Abraham plays a role with other world leaders. He defeats a coalition of five kings from the east (where, later, Israel’s enemies lived) and is recognized by a Canaanite king as blessed by God Most High. The historicity of the events is controverted; apart from Shinar (Babylon), Tidal (Hittite Tudhaliya), and Elam, the names and places cannot be identified with certainty. The five cities were apparently at the southern end of the Dead Sea, and all but Bela (i.e., Zoar) were destined for destruction (19:20–24; Hos 11:8). The passage belongs to none of the traditional Genesis sources; it has some resemblance to reports of military campaigns in Babylonian and Assyrian royal annals.
  16. 14:3 The Salt Sea: the Dead Sea.
  17. 14:13 Abram the Hebrew: “Hebrew” was used by biblical writers for the pre-Israelite ancestors. Linguistically, it is an ethnic term; it may be built on the root Eber, who is the eponymous ancestor of the Israelites, that is, the one to whom they traced their name (10:21, 24–25; 11:14–17), or it may reflect the tradition that the ancestors came from beyond (eber) the Euphrates. It is used only by non-Israelites, or by Israelites speaking to foreigners.
  18. 14:14 Retainers: the Hebrew word hanik is used only here in the Old Testament. Cognate words appear in Egyptian and Akkadian texts, signifying armed soldiers belonging to the household of a local leader.
  19. 14:18 Melchizedek, king of Salem (Jerusalem, cf. Ps 76:3), appears with majestic suddenness to recognize Abraham’s great victory, which the five local kings were unable to achieve. He prepares a feast in his honor and declares him blessed or made powerful by God Most High, evidently the highest God in the Canaanite pantheon. Abraham acknowledges the blessing by giving a tenth of the recaptured spoils as a tithe to Melchizedek. The episode is one of several allusions to David, king at Jerusalem, who also exercised priestly functions (2 Sm 6:17). Hb 7 interprets Melchizedek as a prefiguration of Christ. God Most High: in Heb. El Elyon, one of several “El names” for God in Genesis, others being El Olam (21:33), El the God of Israel (33:20), El Roi (16:13), El Bethel (35:7), and El Shaddai (the usual P designation for God in Genesis). All the sources except the Yahwist use El as the proper name for God used by the ancestors. The god El was well-known across the ancient Near East and in comparable religious literature. The ancestors recognized this God as their own when they encountered him in their journeys and in the shrines they found in Canaan.
  20. 14:22 In vv. 22–24, Abraham refuses to let anyone but God enrich him. Portrayed with the traits of a later Israelite judge or tribal hero, Abraham acknowledges that his victory is from God alone.
  21. 15:1–21 In the first section (vv. 1–6), Abraham is promised a son and heir, and in the second (vv. 7–21), he is promised a land. The structure is similar in both: each of the two promises is not immediately accepted; the first is met with a complaint (vv. 2–3) and the second with a request for a sign (v. 8). God’s answer differs in each section—a sign in v. 5 and an oath in vv. 9–21. Some scholars believe that the Genesis promises of progeny and land were originally separate and only later combined, but progeny and land are persistent concerns especially of ancient peoples and it is hard to imagine one without the other.
  22. 15:6 Abraham’s act of faith in God’s promises was regarded as an act of righteousness, i.e., as fully expressive of his relationship with God. St. Paul (Rom 4:1–25; Gal 3:6–9) makes Abraham’s faith a model for Christians.
  23. 15:9–17 Cutting up animals was a well-attested way of making a treaty in antiquity. Jer 34:17–20 shows the rite is a form of self-imprecation in which violators invoke the fate of the animals upon themselves. The eighth-century B.C. Sefire treaty from Syria reads, “As this calf is cut up, thus Matti’el shall be cut up.” The smoking fire pot and the flaming torch (v. 17), which represent God, pass between the pieces, making God a signatory to the covenant.
  24. 15:13–16 The verses clarify the promise of the land by providing a timetable of its possession: after four hundred years of servitude, your descendants will actually possess the land in the fourth generation (a patriarchal generation seems to be one hundred years). The iniquity of the current inhabitants (called here the Amorites) has not yet reached the point where God must intervene in punishment. Another table is given in Ex 12:40, which is not compatible with this one.
  25. 15:16 Generation: the Hebrew term dor is commonly rendered as “generation,” but it may signify a period of varying length. A “generation” is the period between the birth of children and the birth of their parents, normally about twenty to twenty-five years. The actual length of a generation can vary, however; in Jb 42:16 it is thirty-five and in Nm 32:13 it is forty. The meaning may be life spans, which in Gn 6:3 is one hundred twenty years and in Is 65:20 is one hundred years.
  26. 15:18–21 The Wadi, i.e., a gully or ravine, of Egypt is the Wadi-el-‘Arish, which is the boundary between the settled land and the Sinai desert. Some scholars suggest that the boundaries are those of a Davidic empire at its greatest extent; others that they are idealized boundaries. Most lists of the ancient inhabitants of the promised land give three, six, or seven peoples, but vv. 19–21 give a grand total of ten.
  27. 16:1–16 In the previous chapter Abraham was given a timetable of possession of the land, but nothing was said about when the child was to be born. In this chapter, Sarah takes matters into her own hands, for she has been childless ten years since the promise (cf. 12:4 with 16:16). The story is about the two women, Sarah the infertile mistress and Hagar the fertile slave; Abraham has only a single sentence. In the course of the story, God intervenes directly on the side of Hagar, for she is otherwise without resources.
  28. 16:2 The custom of an infertile wife providing her husband with a concubine to produce children is widely attested in ancient Near Eastern law; e.g., an Old Assyrian marriage contract states that the wife must provide her husband with a concubine if she does not bear children within two years.
  29. 16:4 Because barrenness was at that time normally blamed on the woman and regarded as a disgrace, it is not surprising that Hagar looks down on Sarah. Ancient Near Eastern legal practice addresses such cases of insolent slaves and allows disciplining of them. Prv 30:23 uses as an example of intolerable behavior “a maidservant when she ousts her mistress.”
  30. 16:7 The Lord’s angel: a manifestation of God in human form; in v. 13 the messenger is identified with God. See note on Ex 3:2.
  31. 16:11 Ishmael: in Hebrew the name means “God has heard.” It is the same Hebrew verb that is translated “heeded” in the next clause. In other ancient Near Eastern texts, the name commemorated the divine answer to the parents’ prayer to have a child, but here it is broadened to mean that God has “heard” Hagar’s plight. In vv. 13–14, the verb “to see” is similarly broadened to describe God’s special care for those in need.
  32. 16:12 Alongside: lit., “against the face of”; the same phrase is used of the lands of Ishmael’s descendants in 25:18. It can be translated “in opposition to” (Dt 21:16; Jb 1:11; 6:28; 21:31), but here more likely means that Ishmael’s settlement was near but not in the promised land.
  33. 16:13 God who sees me: Hebrew el-ro’i is multivalent, meaning either “God of seeing,” i.e., extends his protection to me, or “God sees,” which can imply seeing human suffering (29:32; Ex 2:25; Is 57:18; 58:3). It is probable that Hagar means to express both of these aspects. Remained alive: for the ancient notion that a person died on seeing God, see Gn 32:31; Ex 20:19; Dt 4:33; Jgs 13:22.
  34. 16:14 Beer-lahai-roi: possible translations of the name of the well include: “spring of the living one who sees me”; “the well of the living sight”; or “the one who sees me lives.” See note on v. 13.
  35. 17:1–27 The Priestly source gathers the major motifs of the story so far and sets them firmly within a covenant context; the word “covenant” occurs thirteen times. There are links to the covenant with Noah (v. 1 = 6:9; v. 7 = 9:9; v. 11 = 9:12–17). In this chapter, vv. 1–8 promise progeny and land; vv. 9–14 are instructions about circumcision; vv. 15–21 repeat the promise of a son to Sarah and distinguish this promise from that to Hagar; vv. 22–27 describe Abraham’s carrying out the commands. The Almighty: traditional rendering of Hebrew El Shaddai, which is P’s favorite designation of God in the period of the ancestors. Its etymology is uncertain, but its root meaning is probably “God, the One of the Mountains.”
  36. 17:5 Abram and Abraham are merely two forms of the same name, both meaning, “the father is exalted”; another variant form is Abiram (Nm 16:1; 1 Kgs 16:34). The additional -ha- in the form Abraham is explained by popular etymology as coming from ab-hamon goyim, “father of a multitude of nations.”
  37. 17:10 Circumcised: circumcision was widely practiced in the ancient world, usually as an initiation rite for males at puberty. By shifting the time of circumcision to the eighth day after birth, biblical religion made it no longer a “rite of passage” but the sign of the eternal covenant between God and the community descending from Abraham.
  38. 17:15 Sarai and Sarah are variant forms of the same name, both meaning “princess.”
  39. 17:17 Laughed: yishaq, which is also the Hebrew form of the name “Isaac”; similar explanations of the name are given in Gn 18:12 and 21:6.
  40. 18:1 Chapters 18 and 19 combined form a continuous narrative, concluding the story of Abraham and his nephew Lot that began in 13:2–18. The mysterious men visit Abraham in Mamre to promise him and Sarah a child the following year (18:1–15) and then visit Lot in Sodom to investigate and then to punish the corrupt city (19:1–29). Between the two visits, Abraham questions God about the justice of punishing Sodom (18:16–33). At the end of the destruction of Sodom, there is a short narrative about Lot as the ancestor of Moab and the Ammonites (19:30–38).
  41. 18:3 Abraham addresses the leader of the group, whom he does not yet recognize as the Lord; in the next two verses he speaks to all three men. The other two are later (Gn 19:1) identified as angels. The shifting numbers and identification of the visitors are a narrative way of expressing the mysterious presence of God.
  42. 18:6 Three measures: Hebrew seah; three seahs equal one ephah, about half a bushel.
  43. 18:8 Curds: a type of soft cheese or yogurt.
  44. 18:10 One of them: i.e., the Lord.
  45. 18:12 Sarah laughed: a play on the verb “laugh,” which prefigures the name of Isaac; see note on 17:17.
  46. 18:20 The immorality of the cities was already hinted at in 13:13, when Lot made his choice to live there. The “outcry” comes from the victims of the injustice and violence rampant in the city, which will shortly be illustrated in the treatment of the visitors. The outcry of the Hebrews under the harsh treatment of Pharaoh (Ex 3:7) came up to God who reacts in anger at mistreatment of the poor (cf. Ex 22:21–23; Is 5:7). Sodom and Gomorrah became types of sinful cities in biblical literature. Is 1:9–10; 3:9 sees their sin as lack of social justice, Ez 16:46–51, as disregard for the poor, and Jer 23:14, as general immorality. In the Genesis story, the sin is violation of the sacred duty of hospitality by the threatened rape of Lot’s guests.
  47. 19:1–29 The story takes place in one day (counting a day from the previous evening): evening (v. 1), dawn (v. 15), and sunrise (v. 23). The passage resembles Jgs 19:15–25, which suggests dependence of one story on the other.
  48. 19:2 My lords: Lot does not yet know that the men are God’s messengers; cf. 18:3.
  49. 19:8 Let me bring them out to you: the authority of a patriarch within his house was virtually absolute. Lot’s extreme response of offering his daughters to a violent mob seems to be motivated by the obligation of hospitality.
  50. 19:11 Blinding light: an extraordinary flash that temporarily dazed the wicked men and revealed to Lot the true nature of his guests.
  51. 19:14 It is uncertain whether Lot’s sons-in-law were fully married to his daughters or only “engaged” to them (Israelite “engagement” was the first part of the marriage ceremony), or even whether the daughters involved were the same as, or different from, the two daughters who were still in their father’s house.
  52. 19:20 A small place: the Hebrew word misar, lit., “a little thing,” has the same root consonants as the name of the town Zoar in v. 22.
  53. 19:25 Overthrew: this term, lit., “turned upside down,” is used consistently to describe the destruction of the cities of the Plain. The imagery of earthquake and subsequent fire fits the geology of this region.
  54. 19:28–29 In a deft narrative detail, Abraham looks down from the height east of Hebron, from which he could easily see the region at the southern end of the Dead Sea, where the cities of the Plain were probably located.
  55. 19:30–38 This Israelite tale about the origin of Israel’s neighbors east of the Jordan and the Dead Sea was told partly to ridicule these ethnically related but rival nations and partly to give popular etymologies for their names. The stylized nature of the story is seen in the names of the daughters (“the firstborn” and “the younger”), the ease with which they fool their father, and the identical descriptions of the encounters.
  56. 19:37 From my father: in Hebrew, me’abi, similar in sound to the name “Moab.”
  57. 19:38 The son of my kin: in Hebrew, ben-ammi, similar in sound to the name “Ammonites.”
  58. 20:1–18 Abraham again passes off his wife Sarah as his sister to escape trouble in a foreign land (cf. 12:10–13:1, the J source). The story appears to be from a different source (according to some, E) and deals with the ethical questions of the incident. Gn 26:6–11 is yet another retelling of the story, but with Isaac and Rebekah as characters instead of Abraham and Sarah.
  59. 20:1 Kadesh and Shur: Kadesh-barnea was a major oasis on the southernmost border of Canaan, and Shur was probably the “way to Shur,” the road to Egypt. Gerar was a royal city in the area, but has not been identified with certainty.
  60. 20:6 Abimelech is exonerated of blame, but by that fact not cleared of the consequences of his act. He is still under the sentence of death for abducting another man’s wife; the consequences result from the deed not the intention.
  61. 20:7 Prophet: only here is Abraham explicitly called “prophet,” Hebrew nabi (cf. Ps 105:15).
  62. 20:11 Fear of God is the traditional though unsatisfactory rendering of Hebrew yir’at YHWH, literally, “revering Yahweh.” The phrase refers neither to the emotion of fear nor to religious reverence of a general kind. Rather it refers to adherence to a single deity (in a polytheistic culture), honoring that deity with prayers, rituals, and obedience. The phrase occurs again in 26:24; 43:23; and 50:19. It is very common in the wisdom literature of the Bible.
  63. 20:12 My sister: marrying one’s half sister was prohibited later in Israel’s history.
  64. 21:1–21 The long-awaited birth of Isaac parallels the birth of Ishmael in chap. 16, precipitating a rivalry and expulsion as in that chapter. Though this chapter is unified, the focus of vv. 1–7 is exclusively on Sarah and Isaac, and the focus of vv. 8–21 is exclusively on Hagar and Ishmael. The promise of a son to the barren Sarah and elderly Abraham has been central to the previous chapters and now that promise comes true with the birth of Isaac. The other great promise, that of land, will be resolved, at least in an anticipatory way, in Abraham’s purchase of the cave at Machpelah in chap. 23. The parallel births of the two boys has influenced the Lucan birth narratives of John the Baptist and Jesus (Lk 1–2).
  65. 21:6 Laugh: for the third time (cf. 17:17 and 18:12) there is laughter, playing on the similarity in Hebrew between the pronunciation of the name Isaac and words associated with laughter.
  66. 21:11 A son of his: Abraham is the father of both boys, but Sarah is the mother only of Isaac. Abraham is very concerned that Ishmael have a sufficient inheritance.
  67. 21:13 I will make a nation of him also: Ishmael’s descendants are named in 25:12–18.
  68. 21:14 Placing the child on her back: a reading based on an emendation of the traditional Hebrew text. In the traditional Hebrew text, Abraham put the bread and the waterskin on Hagar’s back, while her son apparently walked beside her. In this way the traditional Hebrew text harmonizes the data of the Priestly source, in which Ishmael would have been at least fourteen years old when Isaac was born; compare 16:16 with 21:5; cf. 17:25. But in the present Elohist (?) story, Ishmael is obviously a little boy, not much older than Isaac; cf. vv. 15, 18.
  69. 21:22 Of the two related promises of progeny and land, that of progeny has been fulfilled in the previous chapter. Now the claim on the land begins to be solidified by Abimelech’s recognition of Abraham’s claim on the well at Beer-sheba; it will be furthered by Abraham’s purchase of the cave at Machpelah in chap. 23. Two levels of editing are visible in the story: (1) vv. 22–24, 27, 32, the general covenant with Abimelech; (2) vv. 25–26, 28–30, 31, Abraham’s claim on the well. Both versions play on the root of the Hebrew word sheba‘, which means “seven” and “swear,” and the place name Beer-sheba.
  70. 21:23 This place: Beer-sheba (v. 31). Abimelech had come from Gerar (20:2), about thirty miles west of Beer-sheba.
  71. 21:32 Philistines: one of the Sea Peoples, who migrated from Mycenaean Greece around 1200 B.C. and settled on the coastland of Canaan, becoming a principal rival of Israel. Non-biblical texts do not use the term “Philistine” before ca. 1200 B.C.; it is probable that this usage and those in chap. 26 are anachronistic, perhaps applying a later ethnic term for an earlier, less-known one.
  72. 21:33 God the Eternal: in Hebrew, ’el ‘olam, perhaps the name of the deity of the pre-Israelite sanctuary at Beer-sheba, but used by Abraham as a title of God; cf. Is 40:28.
  73. 22:1–19 The divine demand that Abraham sacrifice to God the son of promise is the greatest of his trials; after the successful completion of the test, he has only to buy a burial site for Sarah and find a wife for Isaac. The story is widely recognized as a literary masterpiece, depicting in a few lines God as the absolute Lord, inscrutable yet ultimately gracious, and Abraham, acting in moral grandeur as the great ancestor of Israel. Abraham speaks simply, with none of the wordy evasions of chaps. 13 and 21. The style is laconic; motivations and thoughts are not explained, and the reader cannot but wonder at the scene. In vv. 15–18, the angel repeats the seventh and climactic promise. Moriah: the mountain is not given a precise geographical location here, though 2 Chr 3:1 identifies Moriah as the mountain of Jerusalem where Solomon built the Temple; Abraham is thus the first to worship there. The word “Moriah” is a play on the verb “to see” (Heb. ra’ah); the wordplay is continued in v. 8, “God will provide (lit., “see”)” and in v. 14, Yahweh-yireh, meaning “the Lord will see/provide.”
  74. 22:9 Bound: the Hebrew verb is ‘aqad, from which is derived the noun Akedah, “the binding (of Isaac),” the traditional Jewish name for this incident.
  75. 22:13 While the Bible recognizes that firstborn males belong to God (Ex 13:11–16; 34:19–20), and provides an alternate sacrifice to redeem firstborn sons, the focus here is on Abraham’s being tested by God (v. 1). But the widely attested practice of child sacrifice underscores, for all its horror today, the realism of the test.
  76. 22:14 Yahweh-yireh: a Hebrew expression meaning “the Lord will see/provide.” See note on vv. 1–19.
  77. 22:15–19 The seventh and climactic statement of the blessings to Abraham. Unlike the other statements, which were purely promissory, this one is presented as a reward for Abraham’s extraordinary trust.
  78. 22:20–24 The descendants to the second generation of Nahor, Abraham’s brother, who married Milcah. Of Terah’s three sons (11:27), the oldest, Abraham, fathered Isaac (21:1–7), and the youngest, Haran (who died in Ur), fathered Lot. Abraham is now told that Nahor had eight children by Milcah and four by his concubine Reumah. Apart from the notice about the children born to Abraham by his second wife, Keturah (25:1–6), all the information about Terah’s family to the second generation is now complete. It is noteworthy that Jacob will, like Nahor, have eight children by his wives and four by his concubines.
  79. 23:1–20 The occasion for purchasing the land is the need for a burial site for Sarah, for it would be unthinkable to bury Sarah outside of the promised land. One of the two great promises to Abraham, that of progeny, has been fulfilled (21:1–7). And now the promise of land is to be fulfilled, through a kind of down payment on the full possession that will take place only with the conquest under Joshua and during the reign of David. This purchase has been prepared for by Abimelech’s recognition of Abraham’s claim to the well at Beer-sheba (21:22–34). Among the ancestral stories this narrative is one of two that are entirely from the P source (chap. 17 being the other). The Priestly writers may have intended to encourage the generation of the exile to a renewed hope of repossessing their land.
  80. 23:3 The Hittites: in the Bible the term is applied to several different groups—inhabitants of the second-millennium Hittite empire in Asia Minor and northern Syria, residents of the Neo-Hittite kingdoms in northern Syria in the first part of the first millennium, and (following Assyrian terminology) the inhabitants of Syria and Palestine. The third group is meant here.
  81. 23:4 A resident alien: such a one would normally not have the right to own property. The importance of Abraham’s purchase of the field in Machpelah, which is worded in technical legal terms, lies in the fact that it gave his descendants their first, though small, land rights in the country that God had promised the patriarch they would one day inherit as their own. Abraham therefore insists on purchasing the field and not receiving it as a gift.
  82. 23:15 Four hundred shekels: probably an exorbitant sum; Jeremiah (32:9) paid only seventeen shekels for his field in Anathoth, though the Babylonian invasion no doubt helped to reduce the price.
  83. 23:16 The current market value: the standard weight called a shekel varied according to time and place.
  84. 24:1–67

    The story of Abraham and Sarah is drawing to a close. The promises of progeny (21:1–7) and land (chap. 23) have been fulfilled and Sarah has died (23:1–2). Abraham’s last duty is to ensure that his son Isaac shares in the promises. Isaac must take a wife from his own people (vv. 3–7), so the promises may be fulfilled. The extraordinary length of this story and its development of a single theme contrast strikingly with the spare style of the preceding Abraham and Sarah stories. It points ahead to the Jacob and Joseph stories.

    The length of the story is partly caused by its meticulous attention to the sign (vv. 12–14), its fulfillment (vv. 15–20), and the servant’s retelling of sign and fulfillment to Rebekah’s family to win their consent (vv. 34–49).

  85. 24:2 Put your hand under my thigh: the symbolism of this act was apparently connected with the Hebrew concept of children issuing from their father’s “thigh” (the literal meaning of “direct descendants” in 46:26; Ex 1:5). Perhaps the man who took such an oath was thought to bring the curse of sterility on himself if he did not fulfill his sworn promise. Jacob made Joseph swear in the same way (Gn 47:29). In both these instances, the oath was taken to carry out the last request of a man upon his death.
  86. 24:10 Nahor: it is uncertain whether this is the place where Abraham’s brother Nahor (11:27) had lived or whether it is the city Nahur, named in the Mari documents (nineteenth and eighteenth centuries B.C.), near the confluence of the Balikh and Middle Euphrates rivers. Aram Naharaim: lit., “Aram between the two rivers,” is the Yahwist designation for Terah’s homeland. The two rivers are the Habur and the Euphrates. The Priestly designation for the area is Paddan-aram, which is from the Assyrian padana, “road or garden,” and Aram, which refers to the people or land of the Arameans.
  87. 24:12 Let it turn out favorably for me: let me have a favorable sign; cf. end of v. 14.
  88. 24:30 Laban becomes hospitable only when he sees the servant’s rich gifts, which is in humorous contrast to his sister’s spontaneous generosity toward the servant. Laban’s opportunism points forward to his behavior in the Jacob stories (31:14–16).
  89. 24:41 Curse: this would be the consequence of failing to carry out the oath referred to in v. 3.
  90. 24:58 Marriages arranged by the woman’s father did not require the woman’s consent, but marriages arranged by the woman’s brother did. Laban is the brother and Rebekah is therefore free to give her consent or not.
  91. 25:1–11 As with the story of Terah in 11:27–32, this section lists all the descendants of Abraham as a means of concluding the story. The Jacob story ends similarly with the listing of the twelve sons (35:22–26), the death of Isaac (35:27–29), and the descendants of Esau (chap. 36). Abraham took another wife: though mentioned here, Abraham’s marriage to a “concubine,” or wife of secondary rank, is not to be understood as happening chronologically after the events narrated in the preceding chapter.
  92. 25:2 Three of the six names can be identified: the Midianites are a trading people, mentioned in the Bible as dwelling east of the Gulf of Aqaba in northwest Arabia; Ishbak is a north Syrian tribe; Shuah is a city on the right bank of the Middle Euphrates. The other names are probably towns or peoples on the international trade routes.
  93. 25:5 Amid so many descendants, Abraham takes steps that Isaac will be his favored heir.
  94. 25:6 The land of Kedem: or “the country of the East,” the region inhabited by the Kedemites or Easterners (29:1; Jgs 6:3, 33; Jb 1:3; Is 11:14). The names mentioned in vv. 2–4, as far as they can be identified, are those of tribes in the Arabian desert.
  95. 25:12 Like the conclusion of the Jacob story (chap. 36), where the numerous descendants of the rejected Esau are listed, the descendants of the rejected Ishmael conclude the story.
  96. 25:18 Pitched camp: lit., “fell”; the same Hebrew verb is used in Jgs 7:12 in regard to the hostile encampment of desert tribes. The present passage shows the fulfillment of the prediction contained in Gn 16:12.
  97. 25:19–36:43 The Jacob cycle is introduced as the family history of Isaac (Jacob’s father), just as the Abraham stories were introduced as the record of the descendants of Terah (Abraham’s father, 11:27). The cycle, made up of varied stories, is given unity by several recurring themes: birth, blessing and inheritance, which are developed through the basic contrasts of barrenness/fertility, non-blessing/blessing, and inheritance/exile/homeland. The large story has an envelope structure in which Jacob’s youth is spent in Canaan striving with his older brother Esau (25:19–28:22), his early adulthood in Paddan-aram building a family and striving with his brother-in-law Laban (chaps. 29–31), and his later years back in Canaan (chaps. 32–36).
  98. 25:20 Paddan-aram: the name used by the Priestly tradition for the northwest region of Mesopotamia, between the Habur and the Euphrates rivers. In Assyrian, padana is a road or a garden, and Aram refers to the people or the land of the Arameans. The equivalent geographical term in the Yahwist source is Aram Naharaim, “Aram between two rivers.”
  99. 25:22 If it is like this: in Hebrew, the phrase lamah zeh is capable of several meanings; it occurs again in v. 32 (“What good…?”), 32:30 (“Why do you want…?”), and 33:15 (“For what reason?”). It is one of several words and motifs that run through the story, suggesting that a divine pattern (unknown to the actors) is at work.
  100. 25:23 The older will serve the younger: Rebekah now knows something that no one else knows, that God favors Jacob over Esau. The text does not say if she shared this knowledge with anyone or kept it to herself, but, from their actions, it seems unlikely that either Isaac or Esau knew. That fact must be borne in mind in assessing Rebekah’s role in chap. 27, the theft of Esau’s blessing.
  101. 25:25 Reddish: in Hebrew, ’admoni, a reference to Edom, another name for Esau (v. 30; 36:1). Edom was also the name of the country south of Moab (southeast of the Dead Sea) where the descendants of Esau lived. It was called the “red” country because of its reddish sandstone. Moreover, “red” points ahead to the red stew in the next scene. Hairy: in Hebrew, se‘ar, a reference to Seir, another name for Edom (36:8).
  102. 25:26 Heel: in Hebrew ‘aqeb, a wordplay on the name Jacob; cf. 27:36. The first of three scenes of striving with Esau. The second is vv. 27–34, and the third, chap. 27. In all the scenes, Jacob values the blessing more than his ardent but unreflective brother Esau does.
  103. 25:27 Simple: the Hebrew word denotes soundness, integrity, health, none of which fit here. Whatever its precise meaning, it must be opposite to the qualities of Esau.
  104. 25:30 Red stuff: in Hebrew, ’adom; another play on the word Edom, the “red” land.
  105. 25:31 Right as firstborn: the privilege that entitled the firstborn son to a position of honor in the family and to a double share in the possessions inherited from the father. There is a persistent wordplay between bekorah, “right of the firstborn,” and berakah, “the blessing.” Contrary to custom, the preference here is for the younger son, as it was in the choice of Isaac over Ishmael.
  106. 26:1 The promise of land and numerous descendants given to Abraham (12:1–3; 15; 17; 22:17–18) is renewed for his son Isaac. The divine blessing to Isaac is mentioned also in vv. 12, 24, and 29.
  107. 26:6–11 This scene is the third version of the wife-in-danger story (cf. chaps. 12 and 20). The mention of the famine in 26:1 recalls the famine in 12:10; the name Abimelech, king of the Philistines in Gerar, recalls 20:2. The deception, according to all the stories, is the claim that the wife is a sister. This story (from the Yahwist source) departs from the two previous accounts in that the wife is not taken into the harem of the foreign king.
  108. 26:12–33 The dispute is over water rights. In a sparsely watered land, wells were precious and claims on water could function as a kind of claim on the land. Scholars generally judge the account of the dispute over water rights and its settlement by a legal agreement between Isaac and Abimelech to be a Yahwist version of the similar story about Abraham in 21:22–34. Here, Abimelech realizes that Isaac has brought blessing to his people and thus desires a covenant with him. The feast in v. 30 is part of the covenant ceremony.
  109. 26:20 Esek: “quarrel.”
  110. 26:21 Sitnah: “opposition.”
  111. 26:22 Rehoboth: “wide spaces,” i.e., ample room to live; site is probably SW of modern day Beer-sheba.
  112. 26:33 Shibah: the place name Shibah is a play on two Hebrew words, shebu‘ah, “oath,” and shwebaa‘, “seven.” In v. 31, they exchanged oaths.
  113. 26:34–35 These verses from the Priestly source introduce the next section on Esau’s loss of his right as firstborn by suggesting a motivation for this in Isaac’s and Rebekah’s dislike for Esau’s Canaanite wives.
  114. 27:1–45 The chapter, a literary masterpiece, is the third and climactic wresting away of the blessing of Esau. Rebekah manages the entire affair, using perhaps her privileged information about Jacob’s status (25:23); Jacob’s only qualm is that if his father discovers the ruse, he will receive a curse instead of a blessing (vv. 11–12). Isaac is passive as he was in chaps. 22 and 24. The deception is effected through clothing (Jacob wears Esau’s clothing), which points ahead to a similar deception of a patriarch by means of clothing in the Joseph story (37:21–33). Such recurrent acts and scenes let the reader know a divine purpose is moving the story forward even though the human characters are unaware of it.
  115. 27:4 I may bless you: Isaac’s blessing confers fertility (vv. 27–28) and dominion (v. 29). The “dew of heaven” is rain that produces grain and wine, two of the principal foodstuffs of the ancient Near East. The “fertility of the earth” may allude to oil, the third basic foodstuff. The full agricultural year may be implied here: the fall rains are followed by the grain harvests of the spring and the grape harvest of late summer, and then the olive harvest of the fall (cf. Dt 11:14; Ps 104:13–15).
  116. 27:36 He has supplanted me: in Hebrew, wayyaqebeni, a wordplay on the name Jacob, ya‘aqob; see Jer 9:3 and Gn 25:26. There is also a play between the Hebrew words bekorah (“right of the firstborn”) and berakah (“blessing”).
  117. 28:1–9 A glimpse of Rebekah’s shrewdness is provided by 27:42–28:2. She is aware of Esau’s murderous plot against Jacob (27:42–45) but realizes the episode of the stolen blessing is still painful to Isaac; she therefore uses another motive to persuade Isaac to send Jacob away—he must marry within the family (endogamy), unlike Esau. Esau, unreflective as usual, realizes too late he also should marry within the family but, significantly, marries from Abraham’s rejected line. At this point in the story, Jacob (and his mother) have taken the blessing for themselves. Their actions have put Jacob in a precarious position: he must flee the land because of his brother’s murderous intent and find a wife in a far country. One might ask how God’s blessing can be given to such an unworthy schemer. There is a biblical pattern of preferring the younger brother or sister over the older—Isaac over Ishmael, Jacob over Esau, Rachel over Leah, Joseph over his older brothers, Ephraim over Manasseh (Gn 48:14), David over his older brothers.
  118. 28:10–22 As Jacob is leaving the land on his way to an uncertain future in Paddan-aram, God appears to him at a sacred place that Jacob had visited only to take a night’s rest. Jacob’s unawareness of the holiness of the place underscores the graciousness of the gift. On his return to Canaan, he will again encounter a divine visitor in the form of the mysterious attacker (32:23–33) and, after his return and reconciliation with Esau, he will again go to Bethel (35:1–15).
  119. 28:11 Place: the Hebrew word is often used specifically of a sacred site. The ambiguous word “place” is used here, for the text emphasizes that Jacob has no idea the place he has come upon is sacred; only when he wakes up does he realize it is sacred. The place was Bethel (v. 19), a sacred site as early as the time of Abraham (12:8).
  120. 28:12 Stairway: in Hebrew, sullam, traditionally but inaccurately translated as “ladder.” The corresponding verb, salal, means “to heap up” something, such as dirt for a highway or a ramp. The imagery in Jacob’s dream may be derived from the Babylonian ziggurat or temple tower, “with its top in the sky” (11:4), and with brick steps leading up to a small temple at the top.
  121. 28:18 Sacred pillar: in Hebrew, masseba, a stone which might vary in shape and size, set upright and usually intended for some religious purpose. The custom of erecting such sacred pillars in Palestine went back to its pre-Israelite period; but since their polytheistic associations were often retained, later Israelite religion forbade their erection (Lv 26:1; Dt 16:22) and ordered the destruction of those that were associated with other religions (Ex 34:13; Dt 12:3).
  122. 28:19 Bethel: i.e., “house of God”; the reference is to the house of God in v. 17.
New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Scripture texts, prefaces, introductions, footnotes and cross references used in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC All Rights Reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

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